the shell motif (2)There are many wonderful drawing challenges on the internet that give people ideas. Many drawing challenges serve to inspire.  They may prompt you to draw things you never thought of drawing.

I have thought that — from time to time — I’d like to post some drawing challenges of my own.  Some are kind of advanced challenges.  But they are fun. They are tasks I give to myself to stretch my skill level.  Yet I hope that artists working at all levels of drawing skill will consider giving them a try because …  because you just never know what will happen.  There’s always a potential for invention in trying new things.  And in any case, drawing isn’t dangerous.  How can you possibly go wrong?

The purpose of this particular advanced drawing challenge is not to produce a drawing to hang in a frame, though that outcome may arrive, but instead to devise ways to stretch your visual skills.  It’s really more about process than product.

This challenge has two parts.  Each can be fairly difficult, but for sure the difficulty of the second part depends upon the difficulty of the first part.

several shells drawing in notebook
drawing from the motif

 

For the first part, you simply draw something.  What do you usually draw, or often draw? Choose something familiar — or something that you can observe keenly, intensely.   What you’ll do is to draw the thing or the scene very carefully and fastidiously, observing as much information as you can and recording it in whatever way you approve.  You may find it helpful to use lots of contours, lots of linear elements to describe forms, but it isn’t strictly necessary.  So just do whatever you do. And you  might also want to redraw this motif you’ve selected a few times, two or three times perhaps.  For this challenge repetitions are good.

Anyone who has learned to play a musical instrument will know what I mean.

For the second part, you go away from your motif and redraw it from memory.  The goal is to capture as much information as you possibly can based on everything you know and remember about the subject.  One way to help this along is to remember how you drew and remind yourself what you drew. Counting may help if there are a certain number of somethings that apply.  Remembering a “seating arrangement” may help.  What was here?  What was over there?  What was sitting next to the such-n-such?

You can prod yourself to recall not merely the details of the scene you observed but the kinetic, physical memory associated with the act of drawing, remembering both what you drew, and how you drew, and the order in which you drew it.

Some artists say that memory drawing is really difficult for them.  I met one very astonishingly skillful artist who said she only drew from the motif, never from memory, that she “didn’t know how to draw from memory.”  I suspect she was being too modest.  But memory drawing is a skill to possess like any other skill in art.  One way to develop it is to remember your previous drawings which is very different from remembering the appearance of the things themselves.  Sometimes the memory of the things is fugitive but the physical memory of your hands will often be much more sure.

shells memory drawing
memory drawing

 

This is a very generalized description of a potentially very amorphous, imaginative, flexible and possibly also very complicated task.  The latter quality is good if you like complication (I do) but not essential.  Tailor things to suit your own preferences.  I offer it — such as it is — as a challenge to try.  I’ve used it drawing seashells and a few other things. You can apply it to any subject. It can, for instance, be a good way to study old masters: first copy the image, once or twice (or more) and then draw the memory of the copying.

It’s like drawing a map of part of your interior mind.  What better typography to travel through ….

 

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6 thoughts on “Advanced Drawing Challenge

  1. Actually I thought about you after I posted this, Carsten. I suspect that this kind of memory skill is something you already possess. It’s sort of a new thing for me. (Something I’ve been doing — from time to time — the last couple years or so). And I find that I love drawing from memory now — it’s just something I do for fun — another layer of behind-the-scenes thinking about and for my pictures.

  2. I suspect you’re right that they are tied together. In your case because you draw so much from imagination, it might be interesting to reverse the challenge. To begin with the imaginative drawing and then to draw the subject from an actual motif being as specific and descriptive as possible about the actual motif — still — not necessarily to make art, but more for the experience of recording the information, for being inside the process. You kind of take yourself for a ride — an art ride.

    C’est vrai tu as raison. Les deux sont liés, certainement. En ce cas, peut-etre on doit renverser les choses: dessine de l’imagination et puis dessine le meme sujet devant le motif actuel. Faite le dessin si “actuel” et reel que possible. Non pour faire de l’art, mais pour l’experience de decouvrir l’information. Pour etre dans le processus. Veins-toi au voyage de l’art-jeu. Et faites-le tout pour la joie elle-meme.

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